Hearty thanks now to former first lady Michelle Obama for reminding us of the power of the most underrated and under-respected weapon used by civilized man, namely the RPD, the “Reverberating Put-Down.”
The RPD is far more effective than insulting your adversary, cussing him out, tossing a martini in his face, dumping a bowl of pickled beets upon his white dinner jacket or telling him to go perform a spectacular acrobatic upon himself. If he deserves long lingering mental anguish, then the Reverberating Put-Down is even better than threatening violence.
Help yourself to a few examples of the RPD before I lay out the one Michelle Obama let herself in for in early April of 2018.
During World War II, Nazi Germany’s Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop made a state visit to Hungary, whose leader, Admiral Horthy, warned von Ribbentrop of the sneaky power of Hungary’s red wine called “Bikavér,” meaning “Bull’s Blood”! But the warning was insufficient.
As the evening progressed and von Ribbentrop imbibed, he let out a torrent of coarse, derisive laughter. He said, over and over again, “Admiral Horthy. Admiral Horthy! How can you possibly be an admiral? Hungary doesn’t have a navy. Hungary doesn’t even have a seacoast! How can Hungary have an admiral?”
Horthy calmly replied, “Well, doesn’t Nazi Germany have a Ministry of Justice?”
The heart-wrenching pleas of Jewish mothers never reached von Ribbontrop’s inner soul. But I promise you that Admiral Horthy’s RPD did!
And when, also in World War II, millions of American troops rallied to Britain’s defense, there was naturally some friction between the Brits and the Yanks. A London newspaper complained that the Yanks were a jolly bunch, except they were “oversexed, overpaid and over here.” The Yanks shot back that their British allies were indeed a jolly bunch too, even though they were “undersexed, underpaid and under Eisenhower.”
A Kentucky man was arrested and found guilty of calling a policeman a donkey. After the verdict, the guilty name-caller asked the judge if it were OK to call a donkey a policeman. “Well,” said the judge, “I know of no law against calling a donkey a policeman.” Whereupon that gentleman approached the policeman who had arrested him and said, “Goodbye, Policeman!”
An impatient Bostonian was locked tightly in a traffic jam in a small sleepy town in Dixie. His luxury car, with Massachusetts license plates, was held hostage by the unbelievably slow movement. The driver yelled out to a resident looking on from a rocking chair on his front porch, “Doesn’t anything ever move in this stupid little town?” The resident calmly explained, “They done caught ’em a Yankee up there. I reckon traffic will lighten up quite a bit after the lynching!”
There was once a French performer whose act brought him thunderous applause. One night, after the applause had faded, the hall was shaken by a muscular “Boo!” Our hero looked in the direction of the booing and then said, “Alas, Mon Ami, I agree with you, but what matter our two opinions against so many adoring thousands?” They would have given him the opera house, thanks to the reverberations of that particular put-down.
And now we come to Michelle. One wonders if Michelle Obama will attract the volcanic put-down her remarks last Friday deserve. Michelle said that during the eight years of Obama’s presidency, America had “good parents” in the White House, parents who made you eat your carrots and get to bed on time. But now, according to Michelle, the “parent” in the White House lets you eat candy all day and stay out all night.
(Never mind how Michelle’s remark reveals the way Democrats view the relationship between government and the citizenry as one of parents overseeing children, exerting control over every aspect of people’s lives. Our founders certainly didn’t see it quite that way!)
The most reverberating put-down so far came from Greg Gutfeld of Fox News’ “The Five,” who lacerated Michelle by asking, “Which one does Michelle consider ‘eating candy’? Calling ISIS nothing but the ‘Junior Varsity’ and doing nothing, or going in and liberating the land ISIS took and destroying them like Trump is doing?”
You’re probably too young to remember the walloping RPD that completely destroyed Republican Tom Dewey’s chances against Roosevelt in 1944. It’s too bad you can’t picture Tom Dewey as this RPD is repeated. It was a simple one-liner – “He looks like the man atop a wedding cake!” And, sure enough, he did! It took a long time for the nation to quit laughing.
That RPD just plain-old fit! Lesson for the future: Watch your step, Pocahontas!